Memorable Manitobans: Doris Boyce Saunders (1901-2003)
Born at Winnipeg on 16 November 1901, daughter of William Saunders (1871-?) and Laura Scroggie (1869-?), she graduated from Kelvin High School in 1917 and entered the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba holding the Sir James Aikins Scholarship in English; she graduated in 1921 with the Gold Medal in both English and Philosophy. She was an early member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. Following a year of study in England, she received a First Class Professional Certificate and taught at Wingham Consolidated School (1921-1922).
From 1923 to 1925, she taught at Machray Junior High School and Kelvin High School while working on her thesis. She received her Masters Degree in English from the University of Manitoba in 1925. For the next year, she studied at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford on a Canadian Federation of University Women’s Traveling Fellowship. She had intended to take a PhD but was informed upon her arrival that Oxford did not approve of doctoral degrees for women so she enrolled in a Bachelor of Letters program, completing her thesis on the life of Dr. Johnson. She was finally awarded the degree in 1936 and it was upgraded to a Masters degree in 1979.
In 1928, she became the first woman appointed to the Department of English at the University of Manitoba. She was the Dean of Junior Women from 1933 to 1945. She became an Assistant Professor in 1941 and a full Professor in 1959, the first woman in the Faculty of Arts to hold this position. She served as Registrar of the new University College from 1964 until her retirement in 1968. She was an early member of the University Women’s Club of Winnipeg, serving on many committees and becoming its President (1943-1945) as well as President of the Canadian Federation of University Women. She was a member of St. George’s Anglican Church. In recognition of her community service, she received honorary doctorates from the University of British Columbia (1957) and University of Manitoba (1994), and the Canadian Centennial Medal (1967) and 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation Medal (1992).
She died at Winnipeg on 3 May 2003 at the age of 101.
Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1906 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.
Ripples from the Creek by Edith Anne Baragar, 1969, page 97.
“They will never be forgotten,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2003, pages A6-7.
This page was prepared by Keith Davies Jones, Gwyneth Jones, and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 5 April 2019
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